Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 14, 2009

Opening Statement:

“Good morning. We’re looking forward to getting back to practice this afternoon. We took last week off after the [ACC] Championship game to take finals. We’ll start day one of bowl preparation today. We have a quality opponent in the University of Iowa. They’re a tremendous defensive football team. I’ve known [Iowa defensive coordinator] Norm Parker for a while and he has a great reputation. They have some outstanding players and they play well together as a team.

“Offensively, they have some big guys that lean on you and mash you a little bit. Then, they’ll throw some play-action at you. Their quarterback [Ricky] Stanzi will be back for this game, which will be a big help to them. They have a good football team. They don’t beat themselves and they’re very well coached. I think they’ve showed a lot of character in that they’ve come from behind in several games this year and did what they had to do to win. It will be a big challenge for us to get ready for Iowa.”

On if Iowa resembles anyone that Georgia Tech has played on the year:

“Defensively, they’re probably similar to North Carolina or Clemson in that they’re big up front. They’re just a good defensive team. Offensively, they kind of have a style of their own. They have some big offensive linemen and they try to run the ball at you and throw some play action. I don’t think we’ve played anyone that resembles what they do offensively.”

On if bowl preparation will be changed at all from last year to this year:

“Not really. There’s only one way to prepare and that’s to go out and practice. There’s not a whole lot of different ways to do it. I think that one of the goals of the team was to win a bowl game. I don’t think any of these players here have won a bowl game, so this is a pretty big deal to them. They’ll prepare to go play. This team has been pretty resilient and focused in. We’ve played 13 games and we’ve only had a game or two where we didn’t show our best effort. Overall, they’ve kind of showed up most of the time. I would be surprised if they didn’t work hard and don’t show up to play. Last year [in the Chick- fil-A Bowl], it was one of those games where we got beat. We got beat in the first 15 minutes. We self-destructed on special teams and we didn’t give ourselves a chance to come back because we dug such a hole. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that.”

On struggles of the rush defense in the last two games:

“I think anytime you struggle as much as we have, there has to be a little lull to it. If I knew exactly what the answer was, then we wouldn’t be struggling. The players have to be accountable, the coaches have to be accountable and we have to look at everything.”

On if a bowl game is a reward or a validation of a season:

“I think it’s somewhere in between. It’s a reward for having a great season and yet it’s important in the aspect that it could set the tone for the next season because it’s the last game you play. Certainly every time you play you want to win, but I don’t think you can make too much out of it one way or another.”

On if the approach of the team will be different because the Orange Bowl is a BCS bowl game:

“Well, it probably factors in at what is at stake, but it doesn’t change the way you get ready to play or approach the game. We’re going to approach the game the same way we have all season. We have more exposure. More people are probably going to watch it than a regular season game because you’re the only one on. It’s national TV and a BCS game, so you have a chance to make a statement one way or another. My concern is that if we play the way we’ve played all year, than we’ll see if we’re good enough. What you don’t want to do is regress and play your worst game of the year in your last game.”

On talking with members of the junior class after the Orange Bowl about NFL Draft possibilities:

“We’ve talked about it briefly. I don’t think anyone has any idea on what is going to happen. In talking to our guys, I think what they’re going to do is file their papers and see where they’re going to be projected to go. When they get that back, they’ll sit down with their families and they’ll make a decision. If they ask for my input, then I’ll give it to them and if they don’t, that’s their prerogative. My big thing in talking with them is trying to set up a plan. Have a plan for what you want to do and don’t get talked into something. If you set the criteria beforehand, then don’t let someone change the criteria when your projection comes back.

“I’m sure the guys are torn about it. There’s reason’s why you would like to go play [in the NFL] and there’s reasons why you would want to stay. They have to make their own decision. My only role in the decision is to, hopefully, help them make an informed decision”

On if the situation of these juniors effects recruiting at all:

“We’re still recruiting guys. We’re straight forward and honest with all of them. They know exactly where we are. So, we have to have some flexibility in that. We might have to have some guys, depending on the numbers, come in January. But, as long as they know that up front and you’re honest with them, then they know it. The juniors have to declare by Jan. 15th, so we’ll have a better idea about who’s staying before the signing day, so we’ll know.”

On what effect an expected large Iowa fan cognition could have on the game:

“I’ve haven’t really thought about it. Unless they can put them in the game then it’s really not going to matter. Hopefully, we’ll have good fan support. I don’t think it’s going to make that big of a difference.”

On if the defense has been consistent in any areas on the season:

“Yeah, we won 11 games. They’re part of the team and they won 11 games, so that’s good. They got a stop in the [ACC] Championship to end the game and they got a stop in the Wake Forest game to put it into overtime. There are a lot of things we’ve done well, it’s not all negative. I think when you have high expectations; you want those people to reach those expectations. I tell the team all the time, it doesn’t matter if you win 7-6 or 47-46, you all win or you all lose. They don’t break it up; we’re all part of the same team.”

On Iowa’s ability on defense to create turnovers:

“I think they do a great job in zone coverage and they break to the ball well and they can get pressure with their front four. When you can do that, you can drop seven back into coverage and have some interceptions. Plus, nobody can run the ball on them. They generally play with six guys in the box and can stop the run, so they have some guys dropping. They’re well coached and they have some good players. They’re pretty good.”

On the challenge of keeping the team in check during a bowl week:

“We’ll just talk to them and we’ll set some curfews. They’ll know that if they get in trouble, they’ll get sent home, bottom line. [Miami] can’t be much different than Atlanta, there’s plenty of stuff they can get into in Atlanta on any given night. I think you have to go down there with a focus on the game. We’ll go down on [December] 30th and give them a night or two without an early curfew to go check everything out and have some fun. Then, we’ll tighten it down as we get closer to the game.”

On where his competitiveness comes from:

“I don’t know where it comes from. I grew up in a small town and on the block I lived on I was the youngest. Most of the other guys were a year or two older than me. So, you either got competitive or you got whipped, I guess. I’ve just always been kind of competitive. It’s kind of who I am. I don’t know of many people that are not competitive, especially if they’re successful at what they do. You almost have to be.”

On if the Georgia Tech players have adopted his competitive edge:

“I don’t know. I think that after a while they act or react kind of like you do at certain things. It’s just human nature, whether it is me or the rest of the staff. I think that if you have some success, the confidence comes with it. It’s a good thing. [In the ACC Championship Game] when our team went on the field and had the ball at the 14-yard line and you asked them in the huddle, every single one of them thought they were going to score. That’s what you want, there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve got competitive guys and they were competitive before I got here.”

On Sean Beford:

“When he was on the scout team on defense, he was a tough, hard nosed kid. He reminded me of some of the kids we had at Navy that just played at 100 miles per hour and played hard. The bottom line was we were having a hard time blocking him. My thought process was, if you’re whipping the guy on the other side, then come over and take his place. I think he thought I was joking at first. So, he moved over worked at it and kind of got the spot and wouldn’t give it up. You want to talk about competitive, there’s a kid who’s competitive. He’s competitive in school and he’s competitive in anything he does. He always wants to be the best.”

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